TheGrio Daily

12 Days of Blackmas – Day 8 “Black People Are Stuck On The Democratic Plantation”

Episode 145
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During the “12 Days of Blackmas,” we bring you the absolute best of theGrio Daily.  The top downloaded episodes from your favorite Wypipologist Michael Harriot.

“The party makeup in America has always been about race.” Michael Harriot explores the demographic makeup of America’s most prominent political parties and explains what would have to happen for there to be a political party that fights for all the things Black people want.

Full transcript below.

Panama Jackson [00:00:00] You are now listening to theGrio’s Black Podcast Network. Black Culture Amplified. 

Michael Harriot [00:00:05] Are you or someone you know stuck on the Democratic plantation? Do you even know what the Democratic plantation is? Well, if you or someone you know are stuck on the Democratic plantation, I want to welcome you to theGrio Daily, the only podcast that will explain why Black people are hopelessly stuck on the Democratic plantation. 

Michael Harriot [00:00:30] Yeah, man, I know. Yeah, I’ve heard that phrase before. Right. The Democratic plantation. So what is the Democratic plantation? It started out as a phrase that white people use, like racist white people used to explain why Black people vote Democrat. You might ask yourself, why is it racist? Well, you know, when you associate a plantation with Black people that’s kind of racist in and of itself, because the fact is that everybody but white people vote Democrat. So if you look at the statistics on the last election, if you look at what Pew Research called voter affiliation, about three out of every five people, about 60% of Hispanics identify as Democrat or lean Democrat, and about 65% of Asian voters, a large percentage of Muslim voters, large percentage of Jewish voters, a large percentage of non-Christians. Like every race, religion and ethnicity, votes Democratic except for white people. White people are the only constituency or the only demographic in America, racially or ethnically or religiously, that vote for the Republican Party. Why don’t anybody ever say that white people are stuck on the Republican plantation? Because you know who was on every plantation? White people. White people was more common to plantations than Black people. 

Michael Harriot [00:01:49] White people was on plantations, too. They weren’t necessarily stuck, but they were the reason that Black people were literally on the plantations, were white people. It’s funny that when you just say Black people are stuck on the plantation, but that phrase started to be used by people who I call boomerang lefties, Black people who are so that even left, right? They’re just so cocksure. They’re basically reactionary antagonists who think that they are smarter than all of the Black people, all of our ancestors, all of our grandmothers and fathers who read the newspaper every day. They know something different. They smart, they wise, they doing it the old way. Because them old Black people just scared. Those people who survive all that brutal torture. We got to do something different. We got to move the ball forward. So those kinds of people now have started using the phrase Democratic plantation to describe the Democratic Party. 

Michael Harriot [00:02:45] Well, first of all, you know, there’s so much wrong with that phrase that I don’t even know where to begin. So when did Black people start voting Democrat? So with the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, he basically had this group of people called the Black cabinet who would kind of, he was racist, but he would kind of use his Black cabinet or the Black brain trust to tell him what was going on in Black America. Right? Executive Order 8802, which desegregated the defense industry, was written by a man named Rayford Logan. So the point of all of that is because he actually listened to Black people and not just pander for their vote, not to say that Franklin Delano Roosevelt wasn’t racist, but because he was a person who actually listened to Black people. That was the first president that Black people voted for. People like to think that it began with like the civil rights era, even though I don’t believe in the civil rights era. So in 1936, the majority of Black people started voting Democrat. It is never went back. Now, what confuses people and the reason they think it started with the civil rights movement is because of the civil rights movement is when white people stopped being Democrats. There’s a difference. 

Michael Harriot [00:03:58] Black people started going to the Democratic Party in the 1930s. White people stopped being Democrats. Democrat was a conservative party until white people realized that they were pushing for stuff like desegregation and ending Jim Crow. And that kind of started with what they call the Dixiecrats in 1948, when the Dixiecrats walked out of the Democratic National Convention and started the states rights or the Dixiecratic Party. And that was led by Strom Thurmond, who would later leave the Democratic Party for the Republican Party and become like the person, the symbol of that shift from conservatives from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party because the party makeup in America has always been about peace. You need to know that history to understand that Black people vote switched to the Democratic Party when they began to see the effects of their policy positions. That’s not to say that the Democratic Party is for Black people. Like, nobody, like even the most staunch Democratic allies or people who are in the Democratic Party who are Black, they’ll tell you if you talk to them privately, this party is racist. But white people are racist. It’s a different kind of racism in the Democratic Party. But here’s the thing about politics. It’s not supposed to be like, who likes you or who you like or you’ll never get everything that you wore right. But to the people who say that you know, typically, the Democratic Party is choosing between the lesser of two evils. Yeah, that’s how politics works. 

Michael Harriot [00:05:32] There are white people who want Black people to be lynched and killed in mass, and those white people vote Republican. And they think like the Republican Party isn’t racist enough. They are white people who want to go back to segregation, and they vote Republican, and they compromise with their party. They’ll never be a coalition of voters that does exactly what Black people want because to have a big enough coalition, we’re going to have to have white people and other people in that coalition, too. Now, there are some things that we do, right? For instance, coalition building. You know, look at on the right side, the Tea Party, how they affect the change within the structure of the party. And those people don’t necessarily think like those people like Marjorie Taylor Greene don’t necessarily think people like, you know, Mitch McConnell have the same values as they do, but they work inside a party structure. And those are the same people who like to talk about the Democratic plantation. 

Michael Harriot [00:06:31] So as Black people, we know we’re never going to have, especially inside a two-party system. Now, we could talk about the disadvantages or the advantages of the two-party system and how it is fail Black people. I agree. Right. But I also would like a time machine, a Little Debbie cakes that tastes like the current Little Debbie cakes, but don’t make you gain weight. I would like to be able to go to like Target and buy Black people’s potato salad that taste like my grandmother made it. I would like a bunch of stuff. I would like for people to be able to smoke cigarettes and get smarter. But the reality is that we have to navigate the world based on the things that exist. We could always push for change while acknowledging the reality of the place that we are, and the reality of the place that we are is for the entire existence of American society, except for a brief moment in the late 1800s in America, has been a two-party system. This is not an endorsement of the two-party system. It is just an acknowledgment of reality. 

Michael Harriot [00:07:37] And so when you talk about Black people need to get off the Democratic plantation. You’re talking about two things to me. Getting off the Democratic Party means either going to the Republican plantation, which is not an option for me. Nah, I’m not aligning myself with white supremacists or third-party option, which in the 2024 election of all the Black people in the country voted for a third party, it would lose. And it would mean that we gave white people the choice of choosing who was president for us or not voting. Now, what is not voting mean? It means giving white people the power to make your political choices for you. That’s not an option for me. Now, the other choice is moving inside of the current structure. How do you move inside of the current structure? One of the things that we have to do is vote as a voting bloc, align ourselves to define our interests, which we have historically done. Like I know that there are people who think like Black people need to get an agenda and write it down. And if like every few years, somebody Black gets the bright idea of, like, we need an agenda not knowing, then they produce something that is like the agenda that was produced by the Black brain trust in the thirties, by the Coalition in the 1950s. That was produced at the Indiana Black Political Action Conference in 1972, the same thing that was in Tavis Smiley book. 

Michael Harriot [00:09:00] There’s an abundance of work done on these issues, but people who don’t pay attention or who disregard Black scholarship and the work that people before them did think that there’s some kind of new answer that all these dumb Negroes ain’t thinking. And the other thing that does white is to me, it says that all of those ancestors, all of those Black people currently, all of those people who’ve been voting longer than you, all of those people read the newspaper every day, all of those Black people who are astute politically are dumb and you know better. Maybe you do. I just don’t believe it. I’ma go with the people who survive. I’ma go with the people who got us here. I’ma go with my grandmama them. And that’s not saying that I don’t think that there should be changes. But there is a saying in Black America that we sometimes disregard or take one without the other and that our goal has always been survival and resistance. And some people think, well, we only got to resist, as some people think all we got to do is survive. And the reality is we have to do a combination of the two. There is a way to align our political values with the way we vote, but it also necessarily means that we have to understand that we ain’t ever going to get all this stuff we want. We got to keep fighting for it. But that’s kind of how democracy works. That’s kind of how coalition building works. It’s kind of how politics works. It’s also kind of why you got to keep listening to this podcast. That’s why you got to tell a friend about it. That’s why you got to download that Grio app. It is also why we leave you with a Black saying, and today’s Black saying is, “No one stuck on the Republican plantation. They just the in whiteness.” We’ll see you next time on theGrio Daily. If you like what you heard, please give us a five-star review. Download theGrio and subscribe to the show, and to share it with everyone you know. Please email all questions, suggestions, and compliments to podcasts@theGrio.com. 

Panama Jackson [00:11:11] You are now listening to theGrio’s Black Podcast network. Black Culture Amplified. 

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Michael Harriot is an economist, cultural critic and championship-level Spades player. His New York Times bestseller Black AF History: The Unwhitewashed Story of America is available everywhere books are sold.

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